Friday, November 16, 2012

Foamy Pekin Duck Eye

One of my Pekin ducks got an infection in his eye.  This is a very common ailment with ducks in colder months because of the lack of water to bathe properly.  Typically, it is easy to manage with some TLC.  We purchased some saline solution and I would go outside 3x a day and squirt it in his eyes.  I would never rub them or touch them, you wouldn't want to irritate it further.  Foamy eyes can often be signs of a upper respiratory infection if accompanied by any combination of sneezing, wheezing, runny nose, diarrhea or lethargy.  If any of these symptoms are present further treatment and a vet visit may be necessary.  This guy didn't have any other symptoms aside from the foamy eye and it was within a day or two that I could see significant improvement in his eye after the saline treatment.

Once this infection occurred I would often (once a week or so) bring out warm buckets of water for the ducks to simply dunk their heads in and give themselves a quick rinse.   

Here are 2 links with some of the common duck ailments/issues:

Friday, October 26, 2012

A New Family Member

A close friend of mine decided to find a new home for her dwarf Norwegian Rabbit.  I of course jumped at the opportunity to take her!  I am very allergic to rabbits, but this would not stop me… after all I am allergic to birds as well.  As long as I remember to wash my hands after handling, I am typically fine with all animals.  So here is Ruby!

The kids are huge fans of Max and Ruby so of course our white bunny needed to be named Ruby.    
Even Winston was a fan of our new bunny!
Ruby would remain part of the inside family and was never outside with the birds.  Meat rabbits is something I would consider in future… but not Ruby and certainly not her breed.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Eggs, Eggs, Eggs!

A few of our first chicken eggs!
Our birds started laying between 18-20 weeks old.  It started with a few eggs a day and quickly escalated to around a dozen a day at least.  As usual, the first few eggs were smaller and often misshapen.  Duck eggs didn't appear until 25 weeks or so.  The duck eggs were beautiful!!  About the size of 1.5 regular size chicken eggs and speckled.

Here is a duck egg between 2 chicken eggs.

To compare duck eggs to chicken eggs in flavour, for me duck yolks were far superior in flavour.  Duck yolks seemed to have a much richer flavour.   Duck eggs are also higher in Omega-3's and last longer.  But… when it comes to the whites, I actually prefer chicken egg whites.  The duck whites have a different texture which was a bit tougher than chicken whites and they just seemed to have less flavour to me.  In a nutshell, if I want dippy eggs for bacon I'll go with duck eggs.  If I'm wanting scrambled eggs or omelette I'll have chicken eggs.

Here is the nutritional breakdown of Duck eggs vs. Chicken eggs (Source):

Chicken Egg, Large, Raw

Chicken Egg Caloric Ration

Chicken eggs (large egg, 50g):
  • Calories: 71
  • Total Fat: 5g
  • Cholesterol: 211mg
  • Sodium: 70mg
  • Total Carbohydratge: 0g
  • Protein: 6g

Duck Egg, Raw

Duck Egg Caloric Ratio
Duck eggs (70g):
  • Calories: 130
  • Total Fat: 10g
  • Cholesterol: 619mg
  • Sodium: 102mg
  •  Total Carbohydrate: 1g
  • Protein: 9g

Now, here are some photos of the flock once they were all laying:

One of our Columbian Rocks… tied with Barred Rocks as my favourite!  The were so sweet and every time I would bend over in the run they would take the opportunity to roost on my back!
A Poisonous mushroom was growing rampant in the yard.
I made sure to remove any that were growing in the birds run, although through instinct, they knew not to eat them.
I believe it to be a:  Fly AgaricAmanita muscaria
The Fly Agaric is a common white mushroom with an orangish to red cap. This is the species illustrated in many fairy tales (it occurs both in North America and Europe). Many mushrooms in this genus are extremely poisonous.
Some yummy snacks from the kitchen.  Chickens really do make the best garbage disposals.


Saturday, August 25, 2012

Sam The Clock

"Sam The Clock" named by our son.   He was boss of the chickens but certainly not the ducks.  

Sam was the Rooster and he was a Barred Rock.  He was the keeper of the flock and the wakeup call in the morning…. and the afternoon…. and sometimes even in the middle of the night.  He was boss of the chickens, indeed, but certainly not the ducks.
As he grew he became a bit aggressive.  We loved taking the kids into the run to pet the birds and chase them around.  Once Sam started getting aggressive we stopped bringing the kids into the run.  He liked to jump at us and try to get our legs with his claws.  When he decided to attack my leg and give me a nasty cut it was decided that he would have to become dinner.  He was a decent weight so one night Aaron, for the first time, harvested a bird.  I'm a bit of a softy so I wasn't present until the bird looked more like food.  I helped with some of the plucking and cleaning and we ended up with Sam on our table.  Surprisingly, the kids were very ok with this process.  Megan was a bit young and may not have fully understood but Owen certainly did and was not bothered by it at all.


Saturday, August 11, 2012

Bird of Prey

We had an issue with a bird of prey in the summer of 2012.  We are not sure what kind of bird but we believe it was a hawk.  One day on my way home from getting our son from school I noticed all the birds were inside the coop.  Upon further investigation I then noticed one of our female rouen ducks on the ground and had been killed by something.  I quickly looked around and saw a very large bird high up in a tree near the creek.  I assume this was the culprit.  I sent the kids inside and I disposed of the duck.  The rouen ducks were my absolute favourite and I was so sad to see one go this way.  I began to make more frequent appearances outside and also got a fake Owl to set in a tree in the yard and I moved it around regularly.  I saw the bird in the same tree a few times but it never took another bird, thankfully.


Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Fly By Summer

As much work as a garden can be, it is well worth the reward! We got a late start this year due to the move but we have managed to get a decent yield so far considering! 



We recently harvested some radishes and plan to make a radish relish. We have harvested a bunch of zucchini so far and had a surplus which we pickled and canned.  We also had a bunch of garlic scopes from our CSA and pickled them as well. 

I haven't done much critter maintenance other than sprinkling some diatomaceous earth, an herb mixture (mint, thyme and sage) along with my garlic pepper spray around the plants and beds. So far damage has been minimal.

We have had a few storms with pretty gusty wind and our trellises have held up to the challenge. Although, my yellow brandywine tomatoes have been struggling this year for some unknown reason.  As for the other varieties, they are doing well and producing many tomatoes which are almost ready for eating; can't wait!    

Tomato Trellis
Cucumber Trellis
The CSA we purchase from at our local farmers market has been wonderful.  We go every Saturday morning and pick up our share and shop at some of the other local venders.  My only complaint is that there has been many repeats and many boxes contain much of the same things in them.  I would love it if there were a bit more variety which I know is available since there is a large share which often contains produce which we have yet to receive in our small share.  Aside form that, I have been quite pleased with the quality and amount given with regards to the cost.

It is just about time now for some second planting to happen!  There is a few spaces around the garden that are just waiting for something to be planted.  In the next week or so I hope to get some beets in the ground and possibly some mustard greens.  

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Chickens and Ducks - early stages outdoors.

After a few days outdoors we brought our 4 older birds coop and run and placed it beside the younger birds to get the acquainted.  They were about a month apart in age if my memory serves me correctly.  After a week or 2 we then moved them all into the large area of the coop and into the main run area together.  There were no issues between any of the birds.  The rooster asserted his dominance with the hens but otherwise things ran smoothly.  
Early days before installing the large run.
Large Run installed with electric fence.
Helping Dad make the ladder.

The ducks, for the most part hung out together but there were always a few hens that would tag along.  The ducks often protected the hens from the rooster.  The ducks were far larger than the rooster so he was intimidated by them.
birds of a feather flock together.

Chasing the Birds!!


Monday, June 11, 2012

Moving Outdoors.

Our little chicks and our not so little ducklings were getting a bit cramped in the garage brooder.  The ducklings are oh so very messy with the water and needed more space.  We had a few different ideas as to how to resolve our problem.  Our first thought was to bring the ducklings outside into the small coop with the other 4 chickens.  I loaded the chicks into the crate while keeping the ducklings in the brooder pool.  The 2 minutes that the birds were separated were the loudest moments in chick-duckling history!!!  The birds were so distressed while separated.  I knew they got along but little did I know that they were BFF's!  Once hearing the birds while separated I quickly reunited them and got to thinking of a new plan. I decided that they would be best to all move into the large coop.  Of course they do not need the run of the entire coop and we have yet to order (hopefully tonight) our electric fencing for our run.  Regardless, I did with what we had and made one small purchase.  I got some chicken wire fencing and we used that to create a run and I used some old cardboard boxes to section off a portion of the coop.

Temporary cardboard walls.

          Little Duckling enjoying a cool place.    

Duck, Duck... chicken??

We have already altered the setup to maximize the shade throughout the day.  We also removed the dog crate and put in the pool with water for the ducklings-which they LOVE!!!  I then threw some bird netting over the run simply because the birds are so young and the chicks would be an easy meal for any bird of prey.  So far so good in their new home.  The grass is pretty covered with poop but that was to be expected.  We ordered our electric fencing, 150ft, and it should arrive later this month for us to install.  The older birds will then be introduced to the rest of the flock and they will all have full run of the place.  

Speaking of our older birds, they are doing well.  They are still in our old coop in the back yard and getting bigger by the day.  I bring out snacks regularly for them (apple cores, left over bread, greens, cheese, etc) and they all let me give them some belly scratches... even Mr. Roo Man!

Our pair of Barred Rocks.

The 2 month old flock.... and Winston (our dog) who wants them so badly!

Mr. Roo Man!